Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Joseph Smith, Senior Joseph Smith, Senior


1771 - 1840


  • Born 1771, Topsfield, Massachusetts
  • Married Lucy Mack 1796; eleven children
  • One of Eight Witnesses to Book of Mormon
  • Baptized April 6, 1830
  • Mission to St. Lawrence County, New York 1830
  • Ordained to the High Priesthood 1831
  • Ordained Patriarch to the Church 1833
  • Appointed Assistant Counselor to First Presidency 1837
  • Died 1840, Nauvoo, Illinois

    This biographical sketch is adapted from LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, by Andrew Jenson, Vol. 1, p.181 and from The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by Lyndon W. Cook; p.11
    Lovingly known to the Saints as "Father Smith," Joseph Smith, senior, the first Presiding Patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and father of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was born July 12, 1771, in Topsfield, Essex county, Mass., he was the second son of Asahel Smith and Mary Duty.

    Joseph Smith, sen., removed with his father to Tunbridge, Orange county, Vermont, in 1791, and assisted in clearing a large farm of a heavy growth of timber. He married Lucy, daughter of Solomon and Lydia Mack, Jan. 24, 1796, by whom he had ten children, namely: Alvin, born Feb. 11, 1798; Hyrum, born Feb. 9, 1800; Sophronia, born May 16, 1803; Joseph, born Dec. 23, 1805; Samuel Harrison, born March 13, 1808; Ephraim, born March 13, 1810; William, born March 13, 1811; Catherine, born July 28, 1812; Don Carlos, born March 25, 1816; and Lucy, born July 18, 1824. [Actually, there were eleven children. This list omits an unnamed male child, born before Alvin.] At his marriage he owned a handsome farm in Tunbridge.

    In 1802 he rented it [out] and engaged in mercantile business, and soon after embarked in a venture of ginseng to send to China, and was swindled out of the entire proceeds by the shipmaster and agent; he was consequently obliged to sell his farm and all of his effects to pay his debts. About the year 1816 he removed to Palmyra, Wayne county, New York, bought a farm and cleared two hundred acres, which he lost in consequence of not being able to pay the last installment of the purchase money at the time it was due. This was the case with a great number of farmers in New York who had cleared land under similar contracts. He afterwards moved to Manchester, Ontario county, New York, procured a comfortable home with sixteen acres of land, where he lived until he removed to Kirtland, Ohio.

    He was the first person who received his son Joseph's testimony after he had seen the angel, and exhorted him to be faithful and diligent to the message he had received. He later saw the Golden Plates and became one of the eight witnesses to the Book of Mormon. He was baptized April 6, 1830. In August, 1830, in company with his son Don Carlos, he took a mission to St. Lawrence county, New York, touching on his route at several of the Canadian ports, where he distributed a few copies of the Book of Mormon, visited his father, brothers and sisters residing in St. Lawrence county, bore testimony to the truth, which resulted eventually in all the family coming into the Church, excepting his brother Jesse and sister Susan.

    He removed with his family to Kirtland in 1831, where he was ordained to the High Priesthood June 3, 1831, by Lyman Wight. He was ordained a Patriarch and president of the High priesthood, under the hands of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, Dec. 18, 1833, and was chosen a member of the first High Council, organized in Kirtland, Ohio, Feb. 17, 1834.

    In 1836 he traveled in company with his brother John 2,400 miles in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and New Hampshire, visiting the branches of the Church in those States, and bestowing patriarchal blessings on several hundred persons, preaching the gospel to all who would hear, and baptizing many. They arrived at Kirtland Oct. 2, 1836. During the persecutions in Kirtland, in 1837, he was made a prisoner, but fortunately obtained his liberty. At this perilous time, he was appointed assistant counselor to First Presidency on September 3, 1837. After a very tedious journey in the spring and summer of 1838, he arrived at Far West, Mo.

    After his sons, Hyrum and Joseph, were thrown into the Missouri jails by the mob, he fled from under the infamous exterminating order issued by the despicable Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, and made his escape in midwinter to Quincy, Ill., from whence he removed to Commerce in the spring of 1839, and thus became one of the founders of Nauvoo. The exposures he suffered brought on consumption, of which he died Sept. 14, 1840, aged 69 years, two months and two days.

    He was 6 feet 2 inches tall, was very straight, and remarkably well proportioned. His ordinary weight was about two hundred lbs., and he was very strong and active. In his young days he was famed as a wrestler, and, like Jacob of old, he never wrestled with but one man whom he could not throw. He was one of the most benevolent of men, opening his house to all who were destitute. While at Quincy, Ill., he fed hundreds of the poor Saints who were fleeing from the Missouri persecutions, although he had arrived there penniless himself.


Bibliography
    Smith, History of the Church, numerous citations, see index
    Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p.181
    Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith,, p.11
    Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation, p.307
    2005 Church Almanac, p.61

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